Probate Litigation Lawyer Bergen County NJ
As a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ knows, even the best estate planning can still mean that family and other beneficiaries fight over a will or contest it. In some instances, there may be valid reasons to contest a will. In other instances, there might be family members who have been fighting for decades or someone who thinks they were left out when they should not have been. If you are caught in the middle of an ugly estate planning argument or believe that there is something wrong with a will, you can speak with the team from Kaplan Law Practice, LLC.
Are there things that can make a will or trust invalid?
Absolutely. You may have your suspicions that a will or trust is invalid and there are a few ways that this could be true.
- You think it was improperly executed. If you know information about the will, like there were no witnesses to the will or the witnesses signed the will at a later date (and never saw the testator sign the will), then the entire will may be invalid.
- You think the testator was not of sound mind. If you believe the testator was not of sound mind when they signed the will, that could mean the will would be invalid. You would need to provide evidence to show that they did not have the mental capacity to understand what they were signing and you may need medical experts to testify.
What can you do?
Our Bergen County, New Jersey probate litigation lawyer knows that it can be difficult to be the person to stand up and say that something is not right. Not only will this delay things, but it can make you an outcast from the rest of your family. However, if you see something wrong, it is your responsibility to point it out. Probate litigation can be a rough and complicated process and going through this without an attorney can mean you or someone who rightfully deserves to be a part of the estate plan is cut out entirely.
Further, you may believe that the executor or appointed trustee is acting in a biased way or is mishandling the responsibilities given to them. This is another reason you may want to reach out to a lawyer.
3 Reasons to Hire a Probate Lawyer
The probate process can raise many issues with executing a testator’s will. If you have concerns about the administration of a will, you may need to hire a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ. Here are some reasons why.
1. Issues With Estate Accounting
The estate’s executor is required to file an accounting with the probate court. In some instances, executors do not file the required accounting on time. The filed accounting may raise questions as to what happened to specific assets. The filing may not have included all required supporting documentation. If you have reason to believe that the estate accounting is not accurate, you can contact a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ, to review the accounting. A lawyer with the Kaplan Law Practice will analyze the accounting to determine apparent discrepancies. An inaccurate accounting can signify that assets have been misappropriated or not distributed per the directives in the will.
2. Problems With Executor
Executors have the power to administer the assets of the estate. If you think the executor may have misappropriated assets or made unlawful transfers, you should contact a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ. In some cases, an executor may not follow the directives listed in the will. As a beneficiary or other interested party, you may be able to take legal action against an executor who has acted improperly or is not accurately following the will. An attorney with the Kaplan Law Practice can advise you on courses of action available to recover assets from the executor or enforce provisions of the will.
3. Trouble With the Will
A will drafter writes a document based on the desires expressed by the testator. Sometimes, the written expression is unclear as to what the testator was trying to accomplish. If you disagree with the interpretation of a provision by the executor, a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ, can review the document to see if you may have an actionable claim. You may need to file a lawsuit to have the court decide how to interpret a particular clause in the will. An attorney with the Kaplan Law Practice has experience in litigation involving wills and can help you with any legal action.
An executor has many responsibilities in administering an estate. If you are a will beneficiary, you have the right to make sure the executor is acting properly.
4 Reasons to Contest a Will
When a loved one passes away, the last thing you want is to find yourself caught up in a contentious lawsuit. Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case. With the person no longer around to clarify their intentions, wills and trusts can be tricky to navigate. Though it may feel like you are only the person who has gone through something like this, probate disputes are quite common. You may find yourself in need of a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ if you plan to challenge a will for any of the following reasons.
A case of forgery is one reason you may believe a will needs to be contested. If you have reason to believe your relative or loved one was not the person who wrote or signed their will, you may have grounds to challenge the will. Kaplan Law Practice has a lot of experience dealing with these types of cases, so you can find solace in the fact that your loved one’s wishes are in capable hands.
2. Undue Influence
If you believe that another person pressured or coerced the deceased to tailor the will to their benefit, that would fall under the category of undue influence. This type of case can present itself in several ways, but the most obvious occurs when family members have been suddenly written out of a will completely, with one person becoming the sole beneficiary. People exerting undue influence are often in a position of power over the one writing the will, such as a caregiver or family member.
If there are any provisions in the will that are unclear, you may have grounds to contest it. One person may be listed to receive an asset in one section, with another person being named for the same asset later on. A lack of clarity is one instance where you may want to consult a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ. Kaplan Law Practice can help you determine the true intentions of the deceased.
Another reason to challenge a will is if you believe the person was not of sound mind and body when they created it. Incapacity may be mental or physical, and both types are grounds to consult a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ. If the deceased could not make decisions for themselves due to mental incapacity, then they were not fit to divide their estate or trust in the eyes of the law.
How To Navigate the Trademark Process
Creating your brand is an exciting time. You can be in control of your business and release your fresh content out into the world. Have you ever thought about registering your trademark?
The process may seem daunting. However, there are a few ways you can navigate the process. The Kaplan Law Practice can also help you work on this exciting process.
1. Do Your Research
Before you file, you should understand the guidelines that differentiate trademarks. Simply put, a trademark can be a symbol, word, phrase, or design (or a combination of these items) that distinguishes your goods from any others.
You should make sure that your trademark is unique. This means conducting thorough research. Be sure there aren’t other manufacturers that have a trademark that matches what you want to do.
It is understandable to feel overwhelmed by this process. A trademark lawyer in Bergen County, NJ, can help answer any questions you may have about your situation.
2. File the Paperwork
It is time to file after you’re sure that your trademark is unique. You submit your trademark registration to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (also knowns as the USPTO).
Among other things, you need detailed contact information, specifications about the trademark, and date of first use. Kaplan Law Practice understands that a lot rides on this application. A trademark lawyer in Bergen County, NJ, can help you prepare what you need for the filing process.
3. Be Patient
At this point, you’ve hit submit on the application. Now, it is a waiting game. Trademarks can take 8-10 months to be approved. You can request your trademark to be expedited. You will have to prove why your trademark needs faster approval.
However, even if you do get an expedited application, it can take 5-6 months to clear. So, when you turn in your application, know it won’t be getting approved tomorrow.
4. Prepare for Opposition
You’ve waited for a long time, and then you hear the examining attorney approve your trademark. There’s just one more step to go. After your trademark is approved, a 30-day “opposition” period occurs. At this time, other parties can file in opposition to your trademark.
This period may feel like it is lasting ages. Know that you don’t field those opposing parties on your own. A trademark lawyer in Bergen County, NJ, can help you take on those who file in opposition.
Ability to Comfortably Interact
A guardian should be someone who enjoys looking after children and exhibits parental sensibilities. Suitable guardians do not necessarily have children of their own, but they should feel comfortable around them. They should be able to bond with your child if they do not already have a bond with them, and should have competent parenting instincts. A person who does not feel comfortable raising a child should not be considered as a potential candidate for guardianship. Adults who feel at ease interacting with children:
- Physically get down to children’s eye level when speaking with them
- Use age-appropriate language
- Ask permission before touching them
- Don’t mind children interrupting them mid-sentence
- Volunteer to babysit
- Show sensitivity to children’s emotional and physical requirements
It is important to not only think about how comfortable a suitable guardian will be, but who your child will respond positively to as well. When you are evaluating candidates for guardianship, consider who your child feels comfortable and safe around as well. They should have a good rapport with the potential guardian and it should be someone they can go to for comfort and support. Someone who is at ease around your children will ensure that your children feel safe and secure.
A guardian’s financial circumstances can significantly impact your child’s future. It is not enough to love or enjoy being around your children; a guardian must have a stable job and the ability to provide your children with the level of food, shelter, and enrichment that matches what you offer. If your child has unique medical needs, that is another factor to consider when you are searching for a guardian with the right financial circumstances.
This factor can complicate your decision-making because you may be thinking of a guardian who has the suitable temperament and similar parenting style as you, but they are not the most financially secure. If someone you want to appoint as a guardian has the parenting capabilities but lacks the financial stability, they might not be appropriate to appoint as a guardian. Evaluating if a person is financially stable enough to serve as a guardian can be a complex process, so you can turn to a probate litigation lawyer for assistance. They will see if your potential guardianship candidates meet the criteria. Think carefully about your child’s financial needs as well when you are considering a guardian. A probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ has likely seen families going into debt after a loss in the family. Choose wisely in order to avoid ending up in a common unfortunate scenario.
When considering guardian candidates, it is necessary to consider how their religious, political, and moral views will influence your children. Although everyone has a unique way of seeing, understanding, and interpreting the world, you should consider those individuals whose thoughts and beliefs align as closely as possible to those you want to instill in your children. Worldviews can differ greatly from person to person, even within the same religion. This is a topic that you will want to discuss with your guardianship candidates beforehand. It can be a sensitive subject, so you want to approach this with respect and consideration. Be sure to state your expectations and ask them about how they would raise your child and the type of religious and political beliefs they would instill in them.
Although a possible guardian doesn’t need to have advanced education, choosing someone who places the same value on your children’s education as you is beneficial. Whether you prefer a public, private, or religious school education for your children or you want to ensure that they attend the college of their choosing, someone you prioritize learning as you do will be more likely to fulfill your wishes. It will be easier to Education also ties in closely to financial obligations, as certain schools and programs can be expensive. Discuss what education goals you want for your child with your chosen guardianship candidate.
There are pros and cons to choosing guardians with life experience and those starting their life’s path. For example, experienced individuals may have more significant financial resources and stability than others. They may have more developed emotional intelligence due to their life experience and would be more open to taking on a guardianship role. Alternatively, guardians in an earlier life stage may be more energetic and remain in children’s lives well into adulthood. Think about your child’s specific needs and whether they would benefit from one or the other, or if they would be suitable being raised by either type of guardian.
Guardians’ family status influences childrens’ upbringing. For example, married couples who share child-rearing responsibilities will impact their children differently from single parents who rely upon alternative childcare resources. Couples with children or planning to have them can provide your children with family relationships and companionship in their age group.
Kaplan Law Practice understands that putting your child in the best hands is a big decision. Speak with a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ for more advice about what to consider when selecting a guardian for your children.
Probate Litigation Do’s and Don’ts
Losing a loved one is stressful enough, but sometimes the probate process can become complicated. There may be times when you need to consider litigation. When making this difficult decision, consult a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ, and take into account do’s and don’ts that can help you choose your actions well.
Do Consider Relationships
Think about the effects of a contested will. You might cause your siblings to feel estranged from you. If you have children, they could lose beloved aunts, uncles, and cousins. You cannot predict every ripple that probate litigation may cause throughout your family, but give the matter careful thought before proceeding and make sure you feel litigation is worthwhile. A lawyer with Kaplan Law Practice who is experienced in the probate process can offer suggestions on how to proceed.
Do Seek Legal Guidance
Find an experienced probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ, who can offer helpful instructions on the ramifications of probate litigation. The process is complicated, and laws and regulations change regularly. Some states may require a probate lawyer to be involved in the process.
Do Consider Financial Outcomes
Even if you contest a will based on reasons that seem valid to you, such as perceived executor misappropriation or will irregularities, remember there is a chance you may not get funds or property awarded to you. There are no guarantees in probate litigation, but a lawyer from Kaplan Law Practice can point out potential results of litigation.
Don’t Overlook Options
Perhaps there are ways other than probate litigation for you to seek the desired outcomes. These options could include private communications or formal mediation. Other parties may be more open to dialogue than you originally think.
Don’t Get Overemotional
If you do decide to initiate probate litigation, choose an experienced probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ, to guide you through the process. Simply explain the facts on which your case is based without lapsing into emotional outbursts or tirades. This process is not a place to air old grievances.
Don’t Assume You Will Win
A judge or jury may decide you do not have a valid case. You cannot predict the decisions of disinterested parties, so do not assume you will get an outcome favorable to you.
Don’t Forget You Can Lose Money
If you contest a will, keep in mind that you can lose money if your case fails. A lawyer with Kaplan Law Practice can work for your best interests in complex probate litigation cases.
When You Need to Hire a Probate Litigation Lawyer
While it would be ideal if the probate process always went smoothly, it sometimes doesn’t. If you’re the executor of an estate, you may wonder when it’s necessary to hire legal counsel for will or trust issues. Here are some signs you need to hire a probation litigation lawyer in Bergen County, NJ.
- Undue influence. Unfortunately, some people may try to take advantage of elderly individuals. If these individuals are physically or mentally weak, others may try to influence them to change their will to benefit them. If you believe that the decedent was unduly influenced, it’s time to speak to a probate litigation lawyer.
- Incomplete will. A will has to follow very specific rules to be considered valid in court. For example, in the state of New Jersey, you must have two witnesses present when signing a will. If a document omits crucial details, it can be contested in court.
- Fraud. Probate litigation is also necessary if the will was created by fraud. For instance, let’s say the testator is given a document and told it’s a power of attorney and signs it. However, it’s discovered that the document is actually a will. However, proving fraud can be tricky because the testator can’t be questioned. The witnesses, therefore, have to be asked what they thought the testator was signing.
- Lack of testamentary capacity. For a will to be considered valid, the testator must have been mentally and physically healthy at the time of the signing. If the testator, for example, was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s and created a new will that differed greatly from the previous one, the document may be contested.
Preparing for Your Meeting With a Probate Litigation Lawyer
If you have determined that a testator’s will has to be challenged, it’s wise to get in touch with a probate litigation lawyer promptly. He or she will review your case and advise you the best way to proceed.
Before your meeting with your lawyer, gather all the necessary documents, such as the original will and testament and recent financial statements of the deceased. You should also prepare a list of questions that you want to ask your lawyer. For example, you may want to ask how long he or she has been a probate litigation lawyer and what his or her fees are.
Call Our Office For More Help!
If you need the help of a probate litigation lawyer in Bergen County, New Jersey, call Kaplan Law Practice, LLC today.